Ethics is concerned with the standards of behavior that inform how we ought to act personally, with our family and friends, in the workplace and in the community.
The word ethics is derived from the Greek word ethos, meaning customs, conduct and character. It’s concerned with the values and morals of the individual, society, organizations and government.
Taking ethical action is choosing the path that provides the most good and the least harm. It’s about compassion, protecting and respecting moral rights, and considering what benefits and what harms each proposed course of action will produce. Taking into account alternatives that will lead to the best overall outcome is critical to ethical leadership. In a nutshell it has to do with what’s good/bad or right/wrong.
Ethical leaders understand the importance of treating everyone equally and fairly, with respect and compassion, and encouraging people to become them best selves. These leaders possess certain qualities that set them apart, including:-
- a passion for doing the right thing
- being proactive
- considering all stakeholders
- being a role model for the values of the organization
- having a holistic perspective
- open and sincere communicators
- hold themselves and others accountable
- communicate the decision making processes
Next time you’re faced with an ethical dilemma, harness the leader within and consider the following framework for decision making.
Identify the Ethical Issue – Ask if the issue is good, bad, or damaging?
Find the Facts – In seeking the facts determine what are the relevant facts, what other information must be considered, what individuals or groups will be affected by the outcome, and then facilitate a consultation process with stakeholders to consider available options.
Make a Decision – Before implementing the decision sit with it to explore all factors.
Consider Alternatives – Check for any alternatives to ensure the best outcome.
Take Action – Make the decision and take action.
Reflect on Outcome – Analyze and reflect on the outcome.
Heed the Lesson – Lessons can be found at each decision point and at implementation. Heed the lessons and share the wisdom.